30 September 2013

Anand's TMER PGN

Continuing with Anand's TMER -- last seen in 2004-2008 and 2009-2013 -- I extracted, combined, and sorted the PGN for the events falling in the nine++ years 2004-2013. This totalled ~940 games in ~100 events. I will spend some time analyzing the games before I continue updating the page for Viswanathan Anand's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1983-).

29 September 2013

BCM Bound

Here on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I don't often feature bound magazines because they are visually uninteresting, but when they make up a series of auctions, they are hard to ignore. The image below shows six auctions by the same seller, all for bound volumes of British Chess Magazine (BCM).

Looking at the auctions in descending order of price, the titles and bidding particulars were

  • Lot of 9 British Chess Magazine Books Antique 1880's 1890's Sutton Coldfield • $2,326.45, 25 bids
  • Lot of 10 The British Chess Magazine Antique Books 1880s 1900s 1910s • $1,600.00, 53 bids
  • Lot of 9 The British Chess Magazine Antique Books 1920s Hardcover Leather Bound • $764.99, 9 bids
  • Lot of 11 The British Chess Magazine Antique Books 1930's 1946 • $710.00, 18 bids
  • Lot of 5 The British Chess Magazine Antique Books Early 1900s • $707.99, 27 bids
  • Lot of 3 British Chess Magazine Books Antique 1880s 1890s Sutton Coldfield • $460.00, 36 bids

That makes (9 + 10 + 9 + 11 + 5 + 3) years x 12 issues per year, which is a lot of reading.

27 September 2013

Fischer News Clips 2004-2005

One of a series of more than a dozen historical news clips ('AP') covering the period from Fischer's detention in Japan through his release in Iceland, 2004-2005.

Former world chess champion arrives in Iceland News 2005 (2:02) • 'Chess legend Bobby Fischer arrived in Reykjavik on Thursday hoping to avoid deportation to the United States by accepting an offer of citizenship from Iceland'

For more in the same series, see TERANOVA casanoastra : search?query=chess. It would be useful to put the entire series in chronological order.

26 September 2013

Fischer's Middlegame : Piece Play

Most of the GM observations on Fischer's Middlegame -- from 'Russians Versus Fischer' by Plisetsky and Voronkov -- are readily understood, except perhaps the first: 'He is highly skilled at playing with his pieces.' It's the sort of observation you would expect to find on any decent player. What was so special about Fischer's play?

The phrase 'skilled at playing with pieces' brings to mind 'I Play Against Pieces' by GM Svetozar Gligoric (Batsford, 2002). Here's how Gligoric explained the title of his book:-

Foreword: An invitation to write for the respected Russian series 'Famous chess players of the world', which included books on world champions and other top grandmasters in history, was an honour one could not refuse. And in 1981, my book with 105 selected games was published in Moscow with a printing of 100,000 copies.

It was called 'I Play Against Pieces' -- words taken from an interview I gave to the editor. The unusual title referred to chess as an art and a clean struggle of ideas, thereby trying to ignore the less dignified influence of psychology and personal conflicts.

That doesn't seem to be the sort of play that the Soviet GMs had in mind. Fischer was, after all, a master of psychology, as his last opponent in the Candidate matches acknowledged (see Petrosian on the 1970-72 Cycle, quoting from 'Petrosian's Legacy' by Tigran Petrosian):-

Now it was my turn to play Fischer. [...] Just look at the way in which he has been able to impose his will on the authorities, and get all his conditions. At the same time his opponents do not achieve the same results. It makes one uncomfortable to know beforehand that the town, the hall, the lighting, and even the furniture is designated by your opponent.

The meaning of the Soviet GMs becomes clear when their observation is given in full:-

[Fischer] is highly skilled at playing with his pieces. This accounts for his liking for positions of the open type and his clearly evident desire to avoid closed positions. Little wonder, therefore, that Fischer seldom locks the center in the Chigorin Variation of the Ruy Lopez, even though the move d4-d5 was in these games dictated by the position. [links are to Chessgames.com]

A related point is made later in the same document.

Very often -- especially when playing with the Black pieces -- [Fischer] deliberately plunges into extremely complicated playing with his pieces, which can provide ample scope for his tactical resourcefulness, his 'calculating ability', and his remarkable skill at coordinating his forces.

Given this predeliction for open positions and piece play, Fischer's life long preference for 1.e4 makes even more sense.

24 September 2013

Fischer's Middlegame

After posting The Evolution of Soviet Chess Organization, based on 'Soviet Chess' by D.J. Richards, I started to look for other resources on the topic. One that came to mind was 'Russians Versus Fischer' by Plisetsky and Voronkov (I have the 1994 edition), which I referenced previously in Convergence of Two Themes and Soviet GMs on Fischer's Style. While I did find a few odds and ends relevant to Soviet chess organization, I'll save those for another time.

More interesting was the rediscovery of a chapter (p.234) titled 'Fischer's play: An analysis (The Conclusions of a Special Methodological Meeting)', signed Boleslavsky, Polugaevsky, Shamkovich, and Vasyukov [Vasiukov]. Based on the chapter's position in the book, it appears to have been written between the quarterfinal candidate match vs. Taimanov and the final candidate match vs. Petrosian, both played in 1971.

The analysis gave some valuable insights into Fischer's style together with examples from his play. Here, for example, are extracts from the section on the 'The Middle Game' together with links to Chessgames.com for the referenced games.

'1. He is highly skilled at playing with his pieces.' '2. Fischer calculates swiftly' [no game references]

'3. Fischer has a very good eye for combinations.' '4. Fischer does not seek complications for the mere sake of complications, nor beauty for beauty's sake.' '5. Fischer's attacks, as a rule, have sound positional justification.' '6. When on the defensive, Fischer is very resourceful and ingenious...' '7. Typical of Fischer is a flair for isolating his opponent's pieces from the battlefield. [ala Capablanca]' '8. Fischer displays a distinctive attitude to the balance of material on the board. In the opening stage of the game he fairly often resorts to a Pawn sacrifice' 'At the same time Fischer readily picks up Pawns in the opening and the mid-game even at the price of considerable risk.' '9. Fischer willingly exchanges one type of advantage for another'

The Soviet GMs also detected some weak spots: 'Fischer's mid-game play, like that of any other player, is not devoid of certain faults:'

'1. In some games he accepts too big a risk' '2. In mutually hazardous positions [...] Fischer feels less confident than usually' '3. Fischer is not always at his best when the situation on the board changes dramatically' '4. His playing is sometimes affected by his excessive leaning toward simple and clear continuations'

I find this analysis useful on several levels. First, it catalogs the attributes that top grandmasters look at when they examine the play of their main competitors. Second, it shows how Fischer measured according to those attributes. Third, and perhaps most important, it provides some specific examples of those attributes from real play. Note that most of the examples were from Fischer's most recent games at the time.

I intend to examine in more detail a few of these attributes and examples. One can always learn from the play of top GMs.

23 September 2013

Anand's TMER 2009-2013

Last week I constructed an index for Anand's TMER 2004-2008 (TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record), and this week I did the same for events he played up to the date of this post. See the 2004-2008 post for background and an explanation of the data shown below.

Ct Yr Mo Event Site
14 2009 02 XXVI SuperGM Linares ESP
11 2009 03 18th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA
11 2009 03 18th Amber Rapid Nice FRA
2 2009 04 Rapid Match Santiago CHI
8 2009 05 AZE vs World Rapid Baku AZE
8 2009 06 Rapid Match Miskolc HUN
6 2009 07 14th WCh-Rapid Prelim Mainz GER
4 2009 08 14th WCh-Rapid 3rd-4th Mainz GER
7 2009 08 Champions Rapid Zuerich SUI
2 2009 08 Champions Simul Zuerich SUI
4 2009 10 Rapid Match Corsica FRA
9 2009 11 Tal Memorial Moscow RUS
42 2009 11 World Blitz Moscow RUS
13 2010 01 Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED
12 2010 04 WCh Sofia BUL
6 2010 08 Arctic Stars Prelim Kristiansund NOR
2 2010 08 Arctic Stars Final Kristiansund NOR
6 2010 10 Grand Slam Final Masters Bilbao ESP
10 2010 10 3rd Pearl Spring Nanjing CHN
7 2010 12 2nd London Chess Classic London ENG
13 2011 01 73rd Tata Steel GMA Wijk aan Zee NED
1 2011 02 Renfe Blitz Valencia ESP
1 2011 02 Renfe Blitz Madrid ESP
11 2011 03 20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC
11 2011 03 20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC
4 2011 03 Rapid Match Tashkent UZB
6 2011 06 24th Leon Masters Leon ESP
1 2011 06 Cez Trophy Simultaneous Prague CZE
6 2011 09 Botvinnik Memorial Moscow RUS
3 2011 09 Botvinnik Mem Team Blitz Moscow RUS
10 2011 09 4th Final Masters Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP
8 2011 10 Corsica Masters KO 2011 Bastia FRA
2 2011 10 Corsica Masters KO 2011 Ajaccio FRA
9 2011 11 6th Tal Memorial Moscow RUS
8 2011 12 3rd London Chess Classic London ENG
12 2012 05 WCh 2012 Moscow RUS
4 2012 05 WCh Rapid Tiebreak Moscow RUS
1 2012 08 Anand vs The World Chess.com INT
5 2012 09 5th Final Masters Bilbao ESP
5 2012 10 5th Final Masters Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP
8 2012 12 4th London Chess Classic London ENG
13 2013 01 75th Tata Steel GpA Wijk aan Zee NED
10 2013 02 1st GRENKE Chess Classic Baden-Baden GER
6 2013 02 Zuerich Chess Challenge Blitz Zuerich SUI
6 2013 02 Zuerich Chess Challenge Zuerich SUI
9 2013 04 Alekhine Mem Paris/St Petersburg FRA/RUS
9 2013 05 Norway Supreme Masters Blitz 2013 Stavanger NOR
9 2013 05 Supreme Masters 2013 Sandnes NOR
9 2013 06 8th Tal Mem Blitz Moscow RUS
9 2013 06 8th Tal Memorial Moscow RUS

Next week I'll incorporate the events from 2004-2013 into the main page, Viswanathan Anand's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1983-), and I'll add the PGN game scores.

22 September 2013

Chess Sells?

Seen on Yahoo...

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People

...Here are the nine beliefs:-

  1. Time doesn't fill me. I fill time.
  2. The people around me are the people I chose.
  3. I have never paid my dues.
  4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.
  5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn't just happen to me.
  6. Volunteers always win.
  7. As long as I'm paid well, it's all good.
  8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.
  9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

I would add this to my 'Chess Sells' series, last seen in Chess Sells Supply Chain Logistics, but I'm not sure what's being sold here. I'm not even sure that the nine beliefs relate to chess. Any ideas? Maybe there are a few ideas buried in the more than 1500 comments.

20 September 2013

How to Decorate a Camel

Full title: 'Just what you'd expect to find in the Middle East - a camel wearing a chess piece hiding behind a billboard'

Just what you'd expect... © Flickr user mikecogh under Creative Commons.

Taken at: Al Rigga, Dubai.

19 September 2013

The Evolution of Soviet Chess Organization

In my previous post Soviet Chess Bureaucrats, I discussed the book 'Soviet Chess' by D.J. Richards, and noted, 'The evolution of Soviet chess organization is scattered throughout Richards' book, published in 1965'. To get a better handle on the subject, I extracted the most relevant passages, starting with the section 'Apolitical Chess, 1920-24, and Opposition to it'. [The italics are mine, to highlight the long titles of the various organizations.]

The Civil War came to an end in 1920 and life gradually began to return to normal. [...] Naturally enough, as in tsarist times, the lead in chess affairs was taken by Moscow and Petrograd [aka St.Petersburg, aka Leningrad]. Chess in Moscow had gone into a temporary decline in December 1920 when Ilyin-Zhenevsky left the city to become Soviet consul in Libau. In the spring of 1921, however, the situation improved, thanks largely to the efforts of Grigoriev [...]

N.D. Grigoriev (1895-1938) played an important role in the early years of Soviet chess. One of the organizers of the 1920 chess olympiad ['now regarded as the first Soviet championship'] and of Moscow chess in general, Grigoriev subsequently served on many key committees of the chess organization. [...] Much of the expansion of chess activity in the capital was achieved by the Moscow Trade Unions, who were firm followers of what might be termed the Ilyin-Zhenevsky political line. [...]

In Petrograd too the year 1921 marked the revival of chess activities on a noteworthy scale. [...] The first steps towards creating a central federation were taken by the Petrograd Chess Club, which elected a temporary committee in September 1933. The committee [...] assumed its task to be the revival of the pre-war All-Russian Chess Federation [...]

The constitution of the new federation was approved by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in January 1924 [...] However, opposition to the new body was already gathering strength and its days were numbered. During 1922-3 a large number of chess circles had sprung up in workers' clubs and at factories and mills. Among these the Ilyin-Zhenevsky line and opposition to the apolitical Federation flourished. The huge chess section organized by the Moscow Trade Union Council, for example, refused to take part in the Federation. [...]

Naturally, the existence of two organizations, striving for control of Russian chess, led to some confusion, but the struggle did not last long. [...] The Federation capitulated, recognizing that it no longer retained the support of more than a small minority of Russian chess players. [...]

The third All-Union Congress of 1924 approved the setting-up of a new body to head Soviet chess. An All-Union Chess Section was created, attached to the Supreme Council for Physical Culture of the Russian S.F.S.R. [...] The chairman of the Chess Section was N.V. Krylenko [1885-1938], whose voice during the next decade became the most authoritative in the Soviet chess movement. [...] The political role ascribed to chess by party activists from the earliest days was affirmed by a Central Committee decree, issued [in June 1925 ...]

The next step in the evolution is summarized from 'The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Thirties'.

In September 1929 the Central Committee of the party had passed a resolution stressing the need to strengthen state control over the physical culture movement and in the next two years steps were taken to reorganize the movement in closer harmony with the overriding political and economic needs of the day. The first step was taken in April 1930, when a decree of the Central Executive Committee set up a new All-Union Council for Physical Culture to control the work which up to then had been supervised by the two parallel organizations, the Supreme Council for Physical Culture of the R.S.F.S.R. and the separate Trade Union organization for physical culture. [...] A chess section, headed as before by Krylenko, was attached to this new All-Union Council for Physical Culture, which in effect amounted to a Ministry of Sport. [...]

In 1936, the year of the new Stalin constitution, a new higher authority was set up, the All-Union Committee for Physical Culture and Sport, attached to the Council of Ministers. This body, which included a Chess Section, remained in control until 1959. [...]

Stalin's purges of 1937 and 1938 decimated the Soviet sport hierarchy. [...] Several of the leaders of the chess movement, including Krylenko, were arrested and executed as enemies of the people who had done all they could to retard the development of the chess movement and to cut it off from the socio-political life of the nation.

That sad chapter was followed by the infinitely sadder 'Great Patriotic War', the defining event for the forties. The next step is from 'The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Fifties'.

From 1936 until 1959, when it was replaced by a new body, supreme authority over Soviet sport, including chess, was vested in the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport of the Council of Ministers. Below this State Committee stretched a hierarchy of committees [...]

At the instigation of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sport a plenary meeting of the All-Union Chess Section, the first for many years, was arranged for early 1953 to discuss the work of the section's presidium and to elect new officers. The meeting actually took place in May of the following year. [...] A new presidium of the All-Union Chess Section was elected, under the chairmanship of Professor Vinogradov [Footnote: 'Among the members of the new presidium were Averbakh, Alatortsev, ...']. Eight special commissions to control various aspects of chess work were also set up. [...] In 1956 a Central Soviet Chess Club opened in Moscow. [...]

From March 1959 the Committee for Physical Culture and Sport of the Council of Ministers and all local physical culture and sport committees were disbanded, to be replaced by the Union of Soviet Sports Societies and its committees at various levels. In practice this meant little more than a change of name: the same individuals remained at the head of Soviet sport [...] This reorganization of physical culture and sport led to the institution in the summer of 1959 of the Soviet Chess Federation, to replace the old Chess Section of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sport.

At its first meeting, in Moscow in August 1959, the new Federation first of all acknowledged the supreme importance of its political responsibilities [...] A presidium of the new Chess Federation was elected under the chairmanship of Alatortsev. Among the members were [...]

Despite the impressive results of Soviet masters, 'The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Sixties' starts with a catalog of weaknesses in the centralized system.

Throughout the fifties, in spite of the outstanding achievements of the leading Soviet grandmasters, criticism had been regularly levelled at the organizational weaknesses of the Soviet chess movement. When the Soviet Chess Federation was instituted in 1959 it was hoped that many of these weaknesses would be resolutely tackled and overcome, but [...] in several fields little progress was being made.

For other milestones of Soviet chess, see my article on Rise of the Soviet Chess Hegemony. Where would modern chess be if there had been no such emphasis on chess in the Soviet Union?

17 September 2013

Soviet Chess Bureaucrats

How to tackle the subject of Soviet chess administrators/bureaucrats/politicians (i.e. Baturinsky, Bebchuk, Ivonin, et al) listed at the end of my post on Averbakh's 'Index of Names'? To understand their roles requires understanding the different organizations from which they derived their power and authority.

To the rescue comes D.J. Richards, 'Soviet Chess', and its follow-up Post-WWII Soviet Chess. (For more about Richards the author, see D.J. Richards, Russian Lecturer.) The evolution of Soviet chess organization is scattered throughout Richards' book, published in 1965:-

I. The Early Years of Soviet Chess, 1917-30
03 - Apolitical Chess, 1920-24, and Opposition to it
04 - The Establishment of Marxist Control and the Creation of a Mass Movement
11 - Chess and Industrialization

II. Consolidation and New Achievements, 1930-45
01 - The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Thirties

III. The Golden Age of Soviet Chess
06 - The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Fifties
11 - The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Sixties

Richards gives credit for much of his early material to Soviet chess historian M.S.Kogan, and lists the Russian titles of four works by that author (p.173). There isn't much about Mikhail Kogan on the web, but I found the same titles translated to English on Ruschess.com, Books issued in 1918 - 1945:-

Kogan, "History of chess in Russia", 1927
Kogan, "Brief essay on chess history", 1931
Kogan, "Chess in life of Russian writers", 1933
Kogan, "Essays on history of chess in USSR", 1938

Armed with that knowledge, I have enough to tackle Baturinsky, Bebchuk, et al.

16 September 2013

Anand's TMER 2004-2008

Continuing with In a Class by Himself, a small project to update my page on Viswanathan Anand's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER; 1983-; last updated 2004-06-05), I collected all subsequent games from events played through the end of 2008 that were included in The Week in Chess (TWIC). The results are shown in the following table, where the left column is the number of games played in the event.

Ct Yr Mo Event Site
6 2004 06 ARM-ROW Match Moscow RUS
6 2004 07 GpA Dortmund GER
6 2004 07 Semi-Finals Dortmund GER
4 2004 07 Final Dortmund GER
8 2004 08 CCM4 Rapid Match Mainz GER
10 2004 08 Rapid Sao Paulo BRA
12 2004 10 36th Olympiad Calvia ESP
8 2004 11 Corsica Masters KO Bastia FRA
5 2004 11 Keres Mem Rapid Tallinn EST
13 2005 01 Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED
12 2005 02 XXII SuperGM Linares ESP
11 2005 03 Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC
11 2005 03 Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC
10 2005 05 Mtel Masters Sofia BUL
8 2005 06 18th Rapid KO Leon ESP
8 2005 08 CCM5 Rapid Match Mainz GER
14 2005 09 WCh-FIDE San Luis ARG
9 2005 10 1st Rapid Venaco FRA
11 2005 11 Corsica Masters KO Bastia FRA
21 2006 01 Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED
9 2006 03 Glitnir Blitz Reykjavik ISL
12 2006 03 Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC
12 2006 03 Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC
10 2006 05 Mtel Masters Sofia BUL
9 2006 05 37th Olympiad Turin ITA
12 2006 06 XIX Ciudad Leon ESP
9 2006 08 XXI Rapid Open Villarrobledo ESP
8 2006 08 CCM6 Rapid Match Mainz GER
15 2006 09 World Blitz Rishon Le Zion ISR
8 2006 11 10th Corsica Masters KO Bastia FRA
13 2007 01 Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED
14 2007 02 XXIV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP
11 2007 03 Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC
11 2007 03 Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC
9 2007 04 II Rapid Canada de Calatrava ESP
7 2007 06 Sparkassen GM Dortmund GER
8 2007 07 XX Ciudad de Leon Leon ESP
6 2007 08 Chess Classic Rapid Prelim Mainz GER
4 2007 08 Chess Classic Rapid Final Mainz GER
14 2007 09 WCh Mexico City MEX
3 2007 10 23rd ECC Men Kemer TUR
38 2007 11 World Blitz Moscow RUS
2 2007 11 Advanced Chess Rapid Match Moscow RUS
13 2008 01 Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED
14 2008 02 XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP
11 2008 03 Amber Blindfold Nice FRA
11 2008 03 Amber Rapid Nice FRA
6 2008 05 XXI Magistral Rapid Semi-Final Leon ESP
4 2008 06 XXI Magistral Rapid Final Leon ESP
6 2008 08 13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Mainz GER
4 2008 08 13th GrenkeLeasing Rapid WCh Final Mainz GER
10 2008 09 Grand Slam Final Bilbao ESP
11 2008 10 WCh Bonn GER

The table doesn't show Bundesliga games, because they aren't easily consolidated for a single season, but they haven't been overlooked. All events will be included on the TMER page when it is finally updated.


NB: I haven't gone through all games on file and there are undoubtedly errors in the table, like the game count for 2006 Corus.

15 September 2013

Groningen 1946 Autographs

In my ongoing series, Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I occasionally feature a philatelic item. The last post on the subject was First Chess Postcards in the World?, unless you count Burundi Chess Masters, which wasn't an eBay auction.

The item pictured below, titled 'Netherlands 1946 GRONINGEN CHESS TOURNAMENT stamps on Souvenir SIGNED by players', sold for US $1,136.11 after receiving 25 bids from 11 bidders. The price jumped 50% in the last 20 minutes of bidding.

As for the item's description, it was the same as the title, leaving us to match the signatures to the players. I once wrote about the Groningen event on my World Chess Championship Blog -- see World Championship Qualifiers 1946 -- along with a few relevant links.

That's Botvinnik's signature sloping upward from the top right corner of the stamp in the center. He won the event a half point ahead of Euwe. I think that's his signature directly below Botvinnik's just to the right of the central postmark. I count 20 signatures and there were 20 players, so all are present and accounted for unless a non-player managed to sneak in somewhere.

13 September 2013

Kramnik on His World Cup Victory

The two previous Video Friday clips -- 2013 World Cup, Tromsø, Norway and Armageddon Action -- were both about the recently concluded World Championship qualifier in Norway, so let's have one last clip featuring the winner.

Casual chat with Vladimir Kramnik (4:55) • '2013 World Cup Champion Vladimir Kramnik sat down for a casual chat after winning the title in Tromsø - Part 1. Tromsø.'

Q: [Susan Polgar] 'What's the biggest diference psychologically to play a knockout tournament versus a regular tournament?' A: [GM Kramnik] 'There are a lot of differences. It's not only psychological. Chesswise you play differently. I personally prefer regular tournaments, because there is more chess content. You can be more free. You can risk a lot. Because the tournament is long you can lose one game and still win games. Here you lose one game, most often it means you're out. As far as I remember previous World Cups, the people who were winning it, most of the times they were not losing a single game.'

12 September 2013

Meet Chloé

Born 10 September 2013

She is Olivia's cousin. Her name was chosen because it is pronounced the same in French, Dutch, and English: like Klo-ay (rhymes with 'no way').

10 September 2013

September 2013 World Championships

While running through my weekly list of chess news sources, I was surprised to find more top-level World Championship events than I can remember seeing in a single month. The following screen snapshot shows the essential info.

For more info (and a readable presentation), see FIDE Calendar 2013. World Cup 2013 ended at the beginning of the month and World Championship Match 2013 doesn't start until November, but they are both worth mentioning.

As for the Grand Prix events, the Paris tournament is the sixth and last event in the 2012-2013 Grand Prix series, while the Tashkent tournament is the third of six in the 2013-2014 FIDE Women's Grand Prix series.

09 September 2013

In a Class by Himself

Now that I've closed the book on The Carlsen Saga, at least temporarily, what's next? With two months remaining before the start of the 2013 Anand - Carlsen World Championship match, it's only fitting that I spend some time on the reigning World Champion, GM Viswanathan Anand. I left Anand, also known as 'Vishy' to his colleagues, off yesterday's look at Top Indian Players, because the Tiger from Madras is in a class by himself and deserves special treatment.

Last year, as part of my About to Tripod project, I revived my page on Anand's Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (1983-), and recorded the milestone in Anand's TMER. The TMER page is currently flagged 'Last updated 2004-06-05', so it's high time to bring it up to date.

08 September 2013

Top Indian Players

In my post on China and India Top-20 players, I decided to assemble a gallery of photos for the top Indian players, just as I did for the top Chinese players a few months ago in Putting Faces to Names. The following composite image shows the Indian players left to right, top to bottom, in the same order as the top-20 list:-

  • Pendyala Harikrishna
  • Krishnan Sasikiran
  • Parimarjan Negi
  • Surya Shekhar Ganguly
  • Chanda Sandipan
  • Abhijeet Gupta

Both World Champion Viswanathan Anand and current women's world no.3 Humpy Koneru are missing from the composite, because their likenesses are well known to the general chess public.

Sources: All images from Wikipedia

Some of the Wikipedia photos are not particularly good, because the faces are partially hidden, but a Google image search helps there.

06 September 2013

Egyptian Chess

If you've spent any time browsing chess art, you've likely seen the image below, which is nearly always titled 'Egyptian Chess Players' as a Google image search confirms. I'm no expert in historical Egyptian fashion, but I'm sure the clothing in the painting predates the introduction of chess in Egypt by more than a thousand years or so.

The style mismatch is confirmed by a close look at the playing pieces. Except for the red and white colors, they are all identical. I'm not sure what board game is shown, but it's not chess.

Almatadema Egyptian Chess Players 1865 © Flickr user ErgSap under Creative Commons.

The painter was Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912), a Dutch-born British national according to the Wikipedia page, which also uses the 'chess' painting as an illustration.

During the summer of 1864, Tadema met Ernest Gambart, the most influential print publisher and art dealer of the period. Gambart was highly impressed with the work of Tadema, who was then painting Egyptian chess players (1865). The dealer, recognising at once the unusual gifts of the young painter, gave him an order for twenty-four pictures and arranged for three of Tadema's paintings to be shown in London. In 1865, Tadema relocated to Brussels where he was named a knight of the Order of Leopold.

How well known was he?

After his arrival in England, where he was to spend the rest of his life, Alma-Tadema's career was one of continued success. He became one of the most famous and highly paid artists of his time, acknowledged and rewarded.


His artistic legacy almost vanished. As attitudes of the public in general and the artists in particular became more sceptical of the possibilities of human achievement, his paintings were increasingly denounced. He was declared "the worst painter of the 19th century" by John Ruskin, and one critic even remarked that his paintings were "about worthy enough to adorn bourbon boxes." After this brief period of being actively derided, he was consigned to relative obscurity for many years. Only since the 1960s has Alma-Tadema's work been re-evaluated for its importance within the nineteenth century, and more specifically, within the evolution of English art.

The board in the painting is 10x10. A Google image search on 'egyptian board games' failed to return anything that resembled the game shown. What could it be?

02 September 2013

The Carlsen Saga

What a long, strange trip it's been. Almost a year ago I assembled a collection of GM Carlsen's games with the idea of studying his opening repertoire.

Later I used that game collection to create a Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record (TMER).

Around the same time Carlsen won the London Candidates Tournament, giving him the right to challenge GM Anand for the World Championship.

Meanwhile I started to incorporate the record from GM Agdestein's biography of Carlsen into the TMER.

Then I used some background material on the Norwegian GM.

This was followed by more work on the game collection.

After all this work I tried to tackle the most important question: 'What makes him so good?'

QED? Not by a long shot...

01 September 2013

Spielmann, Rubinstein, Alekhine with wife, Bogoljubow, Selesnieff

For this edition of the ongoing series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I could have taken the easy way out and gone for a chess autograph. There were at least four to choose from:-

  • Dinner Menu from Palma 1970 signed by Bobby Fischer and Bent Larsen • Winning bid: US $560.00 [14 bids]
  • 2004 World Chess championship Leko / Kramnik signed set • Winning bid: US $902.54 [46 bids]
  • Chess J. R. Capablanca signed and Salo Flohr signed, joint simul Prague 1935 • Winning bid: US $999.00 [1 bid]
  • Bobby Fischer signed check and Fischer - Spassky 1992 signed item. • Sold for: US $1,000.00 [1 bid]

Instead I chose to try improving a photograph. The top image below shows the original from an auction titled 'Rare photograph Triberg Schwarzwald Germany 1920s'. It sold for US $633 after receiving 11 bids from three bidders. The bottom image shows my attempt at improving it.

The description added,

Spielmann playing Rubinstein; Aljechin with wife sitting; standing Bogoljubow left and Selesnieff right; Note lower righthand corner "Atelier Carle Triberg"; 9 x 14 cm; very good.

At least I got the tablecloth to be whiter.